Chose the right color for your plate to eat less and lose weight
Have you heard about the Delboeuf optical illusion? In the best-known version of the illusion, two circles of identical size have been placed near to each other. One is surrounded by an annulus; the other one is not. When asked to indicate the larger circle, most people choose the surrounded circle.
Some recent experiments have shown that similar optical illusion is created when the food is placed on a plate of a color which is in contrast with the food. These experiments explored the effect of the color contrast between the plate and the food, and between the dinnerware and the background (tablecloth), and the combined effect of plate size and color contrast between food and plate. They have proven that when the food has the same color with the plate, people tend to eat portions which usually are with 20% bigger than those served on plates of colors which are in contrast with the food. Maybe 20% doesn’t seem to be much, but, repeated over time, can mean a big difference on our waistlines. When the color-contrast between the dinnerware and its background (table, tablecloth or placemat) is reduced, the over-serving is also reduced by as much as 10%. In addition, the larger the plate, the smaller people perceive the portion being served on it.
Choosing the right color for your dinnerware will not only make you eat less, but the food might taste better. According to Spanish researchers, hot chocolate served in an orange or cream-colored cup tastes better than the same cocoa drank from a white or red cup. Similar, drinks served in pink containers are often perceived as more sugary, coffee in brown packaging is thought to be stronger and soft drinks in blue containers are viewed as more thirst- quenching.
This means that the characteristics of serving containers influence how people’s senses perceive foods. The color of the plate or cup can enhance some attributes like taste and aroma. The findings could shed light on how the brain integrates visual information from food as well as the container in which it is served.
So if you want to eat less, lose weight, but still enjoy foods that taste better, you have to change your dishware. Remember that:
- The plates have to have high contrast with what you plan to eat. The exception is when you want to determine your kid to eat more greens: use a green plate for this situation!
- Tablecloths are important, too. Select a cloth with a low-contrast to the dinnerware to minimize the effect of the Delboeuf illusion.
- Use smaller plates to make your portions seem bigger.
Koert Van Ittersum and Brian Wansink-“Plate Size and Color Suggestibility: The Delboeuf Illusion’s Bias on Serving and Eating Behavior”, Journal of Consumer Research;
Journal of Sensory Studies- “Color of Your Cup Might Influence Drink’s Taste”;